But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. — 2 Corinthians 12:9
This picture holds a special meaning for me. I will carry this picture with me for the rest of my life. Only a few people know the significance of this picture, but suffice it to say that this picture is a reminder that God is good and gracious. Today is this sweet girl’s birthday. Her family has gone through a whole lot this past year, and I am very proud of the strength, faith, and (yes) grace that this young lady has shown.
This picture was taken on a day when all the pain and sadness of the past year was really hitting home for her. It was a day on which she needed the love and encouragement of her youth group. It was a day on which no one would have blamed her for being selfish, and thinking only of her own situation. It was a day on which she chose gratitude.
This picture is a reminder that no matter what we experience or what we see in ourselves, God sees infinitely more. When I was her age, I never imagined that I would be used by God in the ways that I have been since. I felt like I had no voice. I felt as if no one listened to, or even cared about anything I had to say. I felt like I could fade away like a vapor, and the world would go on unchanged by my presence, or lack thereof.
This picture tells me that I was wrong. I have had the privilege to council with her as her youth pastor and encourage her in her struggles. I am thankful, not for the pain that her family has endured, but that she believes me trustworthy to share her pain. If you are a young person reading this, you may think that when you go to talk to an adult that you are saying, “I need help.” What we (adults) hear, though, is, “You have worked hard to gain my trust, and I am giving it to you now.”
This picture commemorates the day that with three words of gratitude, this girl forever changed my perspective. On her day of pain and struggle, God used this girl to encourage me in a way that I had needed for a long, long time. Every year on the anniversary of the taking of this picture, I will look at it, and I will celebrate the voice of hope and encouragement that God has allowed me to be in the lives of teenagers.
THIS picture shows us today after church. We are still laughing and sometimes even weeping together. Soon this girl will graduate high school, go off to college, start a career, get married, and all the other things that young ladies do. There may come a time when we rarely see or even talk to each other anymore, but the encouragement she has given me will last a lifetime. If you are reading this, I would like to remind you of the same thing that I have reminded her in our talks. No matter what we are facing or what struggles we may endure, God is still in control. Even in our times of weakness (sometimes BECAUSE of them), He still uses us. I encourage you to encourage others. Sometimes the strongest influence we have on others comes in our time of weakness, but that should come as no surprise because we know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. — Romans 12:15